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Food for thought on malnutrition

india Updated: Jan 09, 2007 14:23 IST

EDUCATION AND empowerment of the Sahariya community, strengthening of panchayat raj institutions, proper implementation of government policies and change in the attitude of those implementing government schemes were the prominent suggestions that came forth during a one-day workshop held at Sheopur on Saturday.

The meet was organised to promote better understanding on malnutrition in the district, which was recently termed as the malnutrition hotspot in the State.

The workshop — Food Insecurity and Malnutrition — organised by Madhya Pradesh Rural Livelihood Project (MPRLP), a project under Panchayat and Rural Development Department of the Madhya Pradesh Government, also discussed and arrived at practical options to fight the malnutrition menace.

Zeroing in on the point that food insecurity and malnutrition were necessarily ‘social’ problems, the participants discussed reasons for the problem and steps to overcome it.

A few of the reasons that were churned out from the discussions were, Marrying off minor girls who subsequently become mothers at a young age; having more number of children; unavailability of health facilities; poor sanitation facilities, including unavailability of water; lack of livelihood opportunities all the year round; schemes not being made according to their actual needs but as per the interests of the officials concerned and absence of monitoring system for already existing schemes.

The solutions that were explored included meeting of all concerned on one platform at least once, empowering gram sabhas and making them aware of different schemes and their utility, creation of grain banks, using traditional knowledge for conservation work of natural resources, incentive-based implementation of schemes, sensitisation of government officials which would help reach out to more target population and formation of women SHGs and convergence of different schemes.

Summing up the discussions, MPRLP coordinator (gender) Tasneem Khorakiwala said, “After the first step of deliberations, the need is to take up 2-3 non-negotiable points and work further to plan a strategy to fight food insecurity and malnutrition amongst the Sahariyas.”

Earlier, setting the tone of the workshop, MPRLP district planning officer Manoj Bhardwaj and Dinesh Sharma highlighted the conditions in the district and the need for bringing persons from diverse fields on one platform to discuss the issues threadbare. The participants included government officials, NGO representatives and media persons to ‘enrich the discussions and help design a realistic plan’.

Workshop chairperson and Sheopur Collector Mahendra Singh Bhilala said that SHGs are being planned to fight malnutrition and food insecurity problem.

After citing the positive and negative aspects discussed during the workshop and expecting everybody’s participation in fighting the social problem, Bhilala said that Sheopur is not just (ill) famous for malnutrition deaths. It should be noted that the district is also a melting pot of three cultures namely Rajasthani, Shivpuri and Bhind-Morena, apart from its beautiful jungles.

The attending NGOs included Ekta Parishad, Centre for Integrated Development and Ma Kranti Devi Samiti (all organisations from Sheopur), BAIF and UNDP from Bara (Rajasthan), Manav Foundation and Nandi Foundation among others.

DFO Vikram Singh Parihar said that a special area development plan would be chalked out for Sheopur. NGO Right to Food’s A Vasishtha said that it is important to retain good officials for proper implementation of schemes.